(SportsNetwork.com) - East, West, North and South, the FCS will have a wide- ranging list of competitors in the national playoff quarterfinals next weekend.
It's a celebration talent across the nation.
The fact three-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State needed to score in the final minute to avoid falling to South Dakota State in the closest Round of 16 game Saturday likely raises the hopes of the other survivors - even though the Bison still found a way to gain their 13th straight win in the postseason.
Six conferences remain alive in the battle royale with the Missouri Valley Football Conference and CAA Football the only two with multiple teams. And, despite a couple scares, all but one seeded team, Jacksonville State - thanks to Sam Houston State - are marching on to the Elite 8.
One quarterfinal will be played Friday night and three more will follow Saturday.
North Dakota State 27, South Dakota State 24
Fargo, ND - Whew!
North Dakota State's reign as the three-time FCS national champion was pushed to the limit by South Dakota State on Saturday, but freshman R.J. Urzendowski's second touchdown reception of the game with 54 seconds left lifted the second- seeded Bison to a 27-24 win in the second round of the playoffs Saturday.
Urzendowski caught a 12-yard fade pattern from quarterback Carson Wentz to erase South Dakota State's go-ahead touchdown just minutes earlier and send North Dakota State (12-1) to next weekend's national quarterfinals, where they will host seventh-seeded Coastal Carolina (12-1).
"Young kids made a few plays at the end," NDSU coach Chris Klieman said after the win. "That's why this league is this league. Every week, week in and week out. I knew this game was going to come down to the fourth quarter."
Before South Dakota State fell for the seventh straight time to Missouri Valley Football Conference rival North Dakota State, the Jackrabbits (9-5) thought they might have a stunning upset. Quarterback Austin Sumner's 3-yard touchdown pass to freshman Jake Wieneke with 3:18 left put the visitors ahead, 24-20.
But the Bison drove 76 yards in eight plays, helped by a pass interference that moved the ball 14 yards to the South Dakota State 7.
After Wentz threw an incompletion and the Bison were moved back five yards by a false start, Wentz faked a handoff to John Crockett and lofted the game-winning pass over SDSU cornerback Dallas Brown and into the hands of the 6-foot Urzendowski just inside the end zone.
On the first play of South Dakota State's ensuing possession, Tre Dempsey intercepted Sumner at the Jackrabbits' 25 to put North Dakota State's escape on ice.
The Bison overcame South Dakota State senior running back Zach Zenner, who rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns while becoming the first player in NCAA history to surpass 2,000 yards in a season for a third time. He finished the season with 2,019 yards.
Zenner kept South Dakota State's go-ahead drive alive with a 5-yard run on 4th- and-2 at the Bison 32. The Jackrabbits scored when Sumner faked a handoff to Zenner and fired a quick slant to Wieneke in the Bison end zone with 3:18 left to play.
North Dakota State built a 14-0 lead in the first half as Wentz fired a 27-yard touchdown pass to Urzendowski and then ran in a 27-yard score.
Urzendowski finished with four receptions for 109 yards. Crockett rushed for 102 yards on 23 carries and Wentz had 70 yards on 13 carries.
South Dakota State fought back to tie the game 14-14 before halftime on two Zenner touchdown runs in the second quarter.
Justin Syrovatka's 33-yard field goal at the 6:43 mark of the third quarter put the Jackrabbits ahead 17-14, but NDSU's Adam Keller countered with two field goals and the Bison went back ahead 20-17.
Coastal Carolina 36, Richmond 15
Conway, SC - Coastal Carolina could have stewed for the last two weeks over a blocked field goal attempt on the final play of the regular season, which spoiled its perfect record.
Instead, the Chanticleers went out and did something about.
Seventh-seeded Coastal took its frustration out on Richmond with a 36-15 rout in the second round.
Coastal (12-1) will travel to second-seeded North Dakota State for the national quarterfinals next weekend. A year ago, the Chanticleers fell to NDSU, 48-14, in the final eight.
The only blemish on Coastal's record was the 15-14 loss to Liberty to end the regular season on Nov. 22. The Chanticleers had a 24-yard chip shot blocked to end that game and were forced to share the Big South Conference title with Liberty.
But coach Joe Moglia's squad, coming off a first-round bye, played with focus in ending Richmond's season one week after the visiting Spiders (9-5) eliminated Morgan State from the playoffs. The Chanticleers rushed for 316 yards to overcome Richmond quarterback Michael Strauss' 402 passing yards.
Coastal Carolina clung to a 6-0 lead late in the second quarter until they capped an 11-play, 58-yard drive with Alex Ross' 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Craig Weick with 33 seconds left in the first half. Austin Cain ran in the two-point conversion and the Chanticleers had a 14-0 halftime lead.
It got much worse for Richmond in the third quarter. Andre Johnson scored on a 9-yard run to give Coastal a 21-0 lead at the 12:13 mark.
The Spiders answered with Strauss' 76-yard touchdown pass to Brian Brown to pull within 21-7. But Henderson broke off a 50-yard touchdown run on the Chanticleers' ensuing drive and Ross scored from 1 yard out just before the end of the quarter to push the lead to 36-8.
Henderson finished with 134 yards on 19 carries and Ross was 22-for-41 for 171 yards and a touchdown, adding 52 yards on the ground.
Senior linebacker Quinn Backus was dominant as he led the Coastal defense with 10 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, 1.5 tackles for losses, two pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.
Richmond entered the game ranked No. 1 in the FCS on third down conversions, but the Spiders went 2-for-13.
New Hampshire 44, Fordham 19
Durham, NH - New Hampshire has the nation's top ranking and No. 1 playoff seed to motivate opponents, but the Wildcats announced they feel ready for the challenge by dispatching Fordham, 44-19, in the second round of the FCS postseason.
UNH (11-1) extended its school-record winning streak to 11 games as its began its 11th straight appearance in the playoffs. The Wildcats will host eighth- seeded Chattanooga (10-3) in the national quarterfinals next weekend.
The CAA Football champions had terrific offensive balance with 274 passing yards and 270 rushing yards. Nico Steriti rushed for a season-high 110 yards and a career-high four touchdowns on 14 carries to fuel the win, while quarterback Sean Goldrich passed for 240 yards and had 48 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
If it wasn't for Fordham freshman sensation Chase Edmonds (208 rushing yards, 385 all-purpose yards, one touchdown), the score could have been worse for the Rams (11-3), the Patriot League champions who were coming off a first-round win over Sacred Heart.
New Hampshire had six sacks of Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich in the game's first nine minutes and threatened to swamp the Rams. Jimmy Owens scored on a 51-yard run on the Wildcats' first offensive play and Goldrich capped their second drive with an 8-yard scoring run on 4th-and-2 as they built a 14-0 lead in the game's first 6 1/2 minutes.
But two turnovers by New Hampshire kept the Rams in the game and they pulled within 14-12 in the second quarter on Edmonds' 91-touchdown run and two Michael Marando field goals.
The Wildcats then regained firm control of the game by halftime. Steriti scored on an 11-yard touchdown run with 3:07 left in the second quarter and Brad Prasky kicked a 30-yard field goal to end the half, pushing their lead to 24-12.
Steriti scored on two more runs (1 and 7 yards) in the third quarter to sandwich around a Fordham score that was set up Edmonds' 65-yard kickoff return and New Hampshire led 37-19 after three quarters.
Steriti added his fourth touchdown on a 24-yard touchdown with 4:48 to play.
Nebrich, averaging 312.5 passing yards per game, was held to 161 yards on 12- of-30 passes with one touchdown and one interception.
Chattanooga 35, Indiana State 14
Chattanooga, TN - The Southern Conference had a subpar season after the departure of its traditional FCS playoff teams, but new power Chattanooga clearly is as good as ever
The Mocs followed the lead of junior quarterback Jacob Huesman as they gained their first playoff win with a 35-14 triumph over Indiana State in the second round.
Huesman accounted for 394 yards and three touchdowns as No. 8 Chattanooga advanced to the national quarterfinals. The Mocs (10-3) will visit top-ranked and top-seeded New Hampshire (11-1) next weekend.
Chattanooga has won the last two SoCon titles. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, who won a combined nine national titles in the FCS, have left the conference for the FBS level.
Huesman rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, and completed 15-of-24 pass attempts for 241 yards and one touchdown. Keon Williams rushed for another 70 yards and a touchdown as the Mocs kept a balanced attack and outgained Indiana State (8-6) 503 yards to 178 while holding the ball for 42 minutes, 57 seconds.
Chattanooga had lost its only other playoff game in 1984, but the Mocs grabbed control of the game in the first quarter. On the game's third play from scrimmage, Mocs safety Sema'je Kendall intercepted Indiana State quarterback Mike Perish at the Sycamores' 30-yard line and returned the ball to the 3. One play later, Williams scored just one minute into the game.
The Mocs balanced out the short possession with a long scoring drive, going 90 yards on 14 plays, with Huesman's 1-yard run pushing the lead to 14-0 at the 5:03 mark.
Indiana State, a Missouri Valley Football Conference member coming off a playoff win against Eastern Kwentucky, cut its deficit in half on Perish's 75- yard touchdown pass to A.J. Johnson with 51 seconds left in the first quarter. But Huesman's 29-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Hudson with two minutes left in the first half pushed Chattanooga's lead to 21-7 by halftime.
Huesman then capped the opening drive of the second half with a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Mocs ahead, 28-7. The drive went 84 yards over 11 plays.
Chattanooga won despite place-kicker Henrique Ribeiro missing all three of his first-goal attempts. The Mocs forced three turnovers, including two interception of Perish.
Illinois State 41, Northern Iowa 21
Normal, IL - Illinois State enacted revenge for its only loss of the regular season by pounding Northern Iowa, 41-21, in a matchup of Missouri Valley Football Conference teams in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
The result was surprisingly one-sided after Northern Iowa won the regular- season meeting, 42-28, at home, but fifth-seeded Illinois State (11-1) kept its two-season home winning streak intact while powering into the national quarterfinals next weekend. They will travel to fourth-seeded Eastern Washington.
Illinois State, which has won 13 straight games at Hancock Stadium, built a 24-0 halftime lead to dispatch of UNI (9-5). Quarterback Tre Roberson finished with 382 yards and four touchdowns through the air and running back Marshaun Coprich had 148 yards and a score on the ground.
Coprich became the Redbirds' single-season record holder with 1,831 rushing yards after his 12th straight 100-yard game to open the campaign.
Illinois State scored on its first three drives to take a commanding 21-0 lead. Roberson connected on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Meredith to cap the game's opening drive and then Coprich's 29-yard run on the Redbirds' second possession set up his 1-yard score to make it 14-0 with 8:16 left in the first quarter.
The Redbirds' third drive began midway through the first quarter and ended in the first minute of the second quarter after they went 87 yards in 15 plays with Roberson and Meredith connected on a 2-yard touchdown pass.
Nick Aussieker's 45-yard field goal to end the first half pushed Illinois State's lead to 24-0. The Redbirds had a 345-52 advantage in offensive yards and a 16-3 advantage in first downs in the half while holding the ball nearly twice as long as the Panthers.
James O'Shaughnessy (four receptions, 115 yards) caught two touchdowns in the second half and joined Meredith (seven receptions, 105 yards) with over 100 receiving yards.
Northern Iowa All-American David Johnson had only 48 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, but he finished with 108 yards on four kickoff returns and another 30 yards on five receptions.
Eastern Washington 37, Montana 20
Cheney, WA - When the Eastern Washington running game is outproducing the passing offense, and the defense is making big plays, then the Eagles are incredibly tough to beat.
That's because there's only so much an opponent can slow down quarterback Vernon Adams Jr.
He accounted for three touchdowns and the defense matched that number in turnovers as fourth-seeded Eastern Washington eliminated Big Sky Conference rival Montana, 37-20, in an FCS second-round playoff game at "The Inferno".
EWU (11-2), which has won the last three Big Sky titles, will host fifth-seeded Illinois State (11-1) from the Missouri Valley Football Conference in the national quarterfinals next weekend.
The Eagles, who defeated Montana, 36-26, on Nov. 8, never trailed against the Grizzlies (9-5) and controlled the game clock with 212 rushing yards, led by Quincy Forte, who had 128 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Adams threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Terry Jackson II to open the scoring in the first quarter and a 23-yarder to Cory Mitchell in the third quarter. In between, Adams had a 3-yard touchdown run with nine seconds left in the first half to give EWU a 13-3 halftime lead.
Adams went over 10,000 passing yards in his career, throwing for 182 yards on 24-of-35 passes.
Todd Raynes had two interceptions of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson, including a 40-yard touchdown return with 1:40 left, sealing the win. Mattew Sommer recovered a fumble deep in Grizzlies territory to set up a Tyler McNannay field goal.
Johnson was 18-for-33 for 223 yards in the final game of his career. He threw a 30-yard touchdown to Travon Van, who had nine receptions for 161 yards.
The game was the final one for retiring Montana coach Mick Delaney. Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin has been speculated in the media as a possible replacement.
Sam Houston State 37, Jacksonville State 26
Jacksonville, AL - When Sam Houston State had a 1-3 record, the Bearkats were just looking for any victory, let alone reaching the FCS playoffs.
The Bearkats turned their season around and won for the second time in the playoffs on Saturday, dispatching third-seeded Jacksonville State, 37-26, as quarterback Jared Johnson accounted for four touchdowns.
Sam Houston (10-4), under first-year coach K.C. Keeler, will travel to sixth- seeded Villanova (11-2) for the national quarterfinals next weekend.
The Bearkats, making their fourth straight playoff appearance, have won seven straight games and nine of their last 10 since falling to Division II Colorado State-Pueblo on Sept. 13. They shared the Southland Conference title with Southeastern Louisiana and then eliminated the Lions in the playoff first round a week ago.
Johnson completed 13-of-19 pass attempts for 161 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
The Bearkats trailed 26-24 at halftime after Jacksonville State's Connor Rouleau ended the first half with a 42-yard field goal.
Johnson then connected with LaDarius Brown for a second touchdown pass - this time a 49-yarder - to put Sam Houston ahead, 30-26, with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
The Bearkats defense stopped Jacksonville State (10-2) on downs at the Sam Houston 43. On the sixth play of the Bearkats' ensuing drive, Jalen Overstreet scored on a 33-yard run to push the lead to 37-26. Overstreet finished with 83 yards on 10 carries.
Jacksonville State, the Ohio Valley Conference champion whose 10-game winning streak ended, outgained Sam Houston 513 yards to 402, but quarterback Eli Jenkins threw two interceptions in addition to rushing for one touchdown and passing for one.
Gamecocks tailback DaMarcus James carried the ball 19 times for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Keshawn Hill caught Johnson's other touchdown pass.
Villanova 29, Liberty 22
Villanova, PA - Villanova quarterback John Robertson says the Wildcats thrive on playing from behind.
They faced their biggest deficit of the season in the FCS playoffs, but rallied to beat Liberty, 29-22, behind Robertson's TD pass and run in the fourth quarter of their second-round matchup.
The sixth-seeded Wildcats (11-2) will host Sam Houston State (10-4) in the national quarterfinals next weekend. Sam Houston went on the road to upset third-seeded Jacksonville State on Saturday.
Villanova faced a 13-0 deficit in the second quarter and was behind the Big South Conference co-champion 22-14 entering the fourth quarter.
But Robertson connected on a 70-yard bomb to Kevin Gulyas to pull Villanova within 22-20 with 13:17 left to play. Robertson then ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game.
After Villanova stopped Liberty (9-5) on a three-and-out Robertson took the Wildcats on an 18-play, 84-yard march and ran in the winning touchdown from 1 yard out with 1:12 remaining.
Robertson also scored from 3 yards out in the second quarter and finished with 100 yards on 18 carries. He added 217 passing yards for the second-place team in CAA Football.
Kevin Monangai carried the ball 20 times for 102 yards. Villanova had a 447-246 advantage in yards.
Liberty quarterback Josh Woodrum scored on a 1-yard run and Nick Newman had a 58-yard fumble return for a touchdown. John Woodrum kicked three field goals, including a 50-yarder - his fifth of the season from at least that distance.
The visiting Flames appeared in the playoffs for the first time this season. They defeated another CAA team, James Madison, on the road last Saturday.